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New Vocabularies, Old Ideas

Culture, Irishness and the Advertising Industry


Neil O'Boyle

Advertisements are often viewed as indices of cultural change, just as the advertising industry is often imagined as innovative and transformative. Advancing from an alternative position, which borrows much from practice-based research, this book instead highlights the routinisation of practices and representations in advertising. Drawing extensively from his own study, the author uses Irishness to investigate the relationship between cultural symbolism in advertising and the cultural vocabularies of advertising practitioners. While globalisation and immigration to Ireland have putatively unhinged taken-for-granted understandings of Irish identity, the author argues that representations of Ireland and Irishness in the global context continue to draw from a stock of particularisms and that advertising practitioners continue to operate with largely essentialist understandings of culture and identity. As the first of its kind in Ireland, this book makes a case for renewed attention to advertising by academic scholars and promotes the benefits of interdisciplinary research.


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Chapter 7 Conclusion 165


Chapter 7 Conclusion The question of advertising has long ceased to be a national question, and indeed its transnational dimension constitutes its history as a network and a network of networks.1 Going forward looking backward Although one might question advertising’s assumed social power, there is little disputing its growing inf luence as the primary income source of the mass media (see Herman and Chomsky 1994). In his Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1989), Habermas described the escalat- ing power of commercial media organisations and the steadily increasing reliance on advertising revenues. For Habermas, the “refeudalization” of the mediatised public sphere through commercialisation has made audi- ences spectators rather than participants, consumers rather than citizens (Fairclough 1995: 44). More recently, studies of various sectors of the media and cultural industries, notably journalism, have pointed to the growing inf luence of advertising and “market principles” in shaping editorial content as well as professional norms and values (see Preston 2009: 63). Mattelart’s (1991) argument (above) regarding the transnationalisation of advertising is also convincing on many levels. Ownership consolidation and regulatory convergence have forged and strengthened the international community of practice and have facilitated a dramatic increase in global advertising. As De Mooij (1994: 211) suggests, the internationalisation of brands has been stimulated by the internationalisation of media. This has occurred alongside internationalisation and transnationalisation in various other 166 Chapter 7 industries to which advertising is closely linked, such as the music, movie, and telecommunications industries (and amongst a host of other smaller...

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